Brendon lasted three whole days at his parents. He hasn’t lived with them since he was seventeen, so he’s kind of proud of that accomplishment. And then he moved into Jon’s guestroom until he could find his own apartment.
He’d put his house in Oregon up for sale and shipped all his stuff to Vegas, with the exception of Sweet Beulah, who he ended up giving to Chris. The reasons he left in the first place – his family, his art – seem like good enough reasons to come home. He has three new nephews and one niece. His dad’s even talking to him again, even if the conversations are stilted and largely superficial. And suddenly the cactus blossom seems infinitely more interesting a subject than the conch shell – maybe it always has been, he just had to gain a little perspective.
It took Brendon a little under a month to find the perfect loft, with just the right amount of light and space for his paintings - and a landlord that was okay with having a cranky old shepherd in residence - and he doesn’t care that he hasn’t seen Spencer since the day he’d rescued him from Wentz. He absolutely does not care at all.
“Okay, shower, we’re going out,” Jon says, letting himself into Brendon’s brand new place without even a knock. Brendon totally regrets giving him a key.
“Out where?” Brendon asks. He’s sprawled on the couch in his bathrobe.
“Dinner. Food. Have you even left this couch since I saw you on Sunday?” Jon disappears behind the giant folding screen that serves to section off his bedroom.
“Um. I buzzed in a package for Mrs. Hamish this morning,” Brendon says, scratching the back of his head. He is a little rank.
Jon pokes his head out around the screen. “Have you painted anything?”
“That would be a big fat no, Jon,” Brendon says. He is well aware he’s being pathetic, but he can’t really help it. He’s sad.
Brendon pushes himself up off the couch and shuffles over towards the makeshift bedroom. “I don’t really feel like going out.”
“Too bad.” Jon holds up his baby blue She-Ra t-shirt. He arches an eyebrow at Brendon. “Are you serious?”
“Jon,” Brendon whines, falling back onto his bed.
“Oh no. On your feet, buddy.” Jon drops the shirt and grabs for his arm. “Seriously, you need a shower. I can see your aura. You’re like Pig Pen, only with better hair.”
Brendon runs a hand through his messy strands. It may be greasy with dirt, but he does have awesome hair, he knows this.
Reluctantly, he allows Jon to push him into the bathroom and he gives in, twisting on the water and stepping out of his robe and boxers. The hot water actually makes him feel a little better and he stays in longer than he’d planned. By the time he gets out, Jon has black pants and a dark blue dress shirt laid out on the bed.
“So we’re getting dressed up?” he asks, eyeing Jon’s own outfit. He’s surprised he hadn’t noticed it when Jon first arrived. It’s kind of hilarious.
“Hey, I rock this sweater-vest,” Jon says, smoothing his palms down his argyle-covered chest and stomach. “Check out my loafers.”
Brendon bites his lip to tamp down his smile and shakes his head. The loafers even have tassels on them. “They’re pretty awesome.”
“That’s what I’m saying.” Jon grins at him. Jon is sort of irresistible, Brendon’s found, even with his bangs slicked down sideways over his forehead. “Now get dressed. We’ve got reservations.”
Brendon doesn’t want to get dressed, but he doesn’t want to disappoint Jon, who’s seemed to have gone through a lot of trouble just to get him out of the apartment.
It isn’t until they swing by and pick up Ryan that Brendon realizes the sweater-vest, khakis and loafers are completely for Ryan’s benefit. Ryan stares, visibly stunned, for a full minute before pulling a face and saying, “Nice pants.”
Brendon sees Jon’s expression fall for a split-second – a flash of hurt quickly covered up by a huge mocking grin.
“All for you, Ross,” Jon says brightly.
Ryan snorts derisively.
Brendon wants to kick Ryan hard in the shin, but Ryan’s scary, so he doesn’t. He just climbs into the backseat of the truck cab and lets Ryan take shotgun.
They end up at a little corner bistro, a trendy place called The Mushroom, and Jon takes up two parking spots on the street with a little smirk of satisfaction when Ryan swings out of the truck in a huff. Brendon would bet a shiny nickel that they’ll be having angry sex in the restaurant bathroom by dessert, except he doesn’t have anyone to bet with, and he also feels like this sort of pigtail pulling has been going on for years, with unsatisfying results. Boys can be so stupid sometimes.
Ryan relinquishes his tweed jacket to the coat-check girl, but keeps the three scarves he’s got tied loosely around his neck, and then he flounces off towards the back of the room without waiting for the hostess. Brendon gets the feeling that he comes here a lot.
Jon slides his hands into his pockets and smiles at Brendon. “After you,” he says, and then they both follow Ryan into the maze of tables.
It’s dim and swank and Brendon feels distinctly out of place. He’s glad he remembered to stick in his contacts, at least.
Ryan is sitting with his legs crossed at a half-round table that could easily fit five people, but no one makes any comments to them about it. He has his menu open and is studiously ignoring Jon, and Jon plops down next him and snags the menu right out of his hands.
Ryan actually squawks.
Brendon’s kind of glad Jon dragged him out, if only because Ryan and Jon are turning out to be awesome entertainment.
And then he spots Spencer.
Spencer looks amazing, of course, in his black shirt and dark pants and beard. Brendon’s a little thrilled that he’s kept it, that he’s let it fill out more, and then he remembers that he hasn’t seen or heard from Spencer in a month, and his face heats up and his heart starts pounding and he really wants to be anywhere but there. He can’t believe Jon set him up like this. He wonders if this is just as much a surprise to Spencer as it is to him.
“I’m, uh.” Brendon flails a hand at Jon and then jumps to his feet. “Bathroom.” He’s thinking maybe he can hide in the bathroom and then slip out the back and call a cab.
Spencer must be some kind of fucking stealth ninja, though, because he manages to cut Brendon off at the mouth of the hallway leading back to the bathrooms, like he anticipated Brendon’s completely wuss move.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Spencer asks, palming the wall to Brendon’s right. He either has to stop or make a scene, and Brendon usually likes attention, yeah, but he kind of wants to be invisible right then. He doesn’t like the hurt, the flash of panic that flares up at being so close to Spencer again. He doesn’t want to make a fool of himself. At least, not any more than he already has.
“Um,” Brendon fidgets back and forth on his feet, “bathroom?”
Spencer quirks an eyebrow. “Okay,” he says, then fists the front of Brendon’s shirt and tugs him down the short hallway and into the men’s room. He shoves Brendon up against the closed door and grins down at him, sharp.
Brendon swallows hard, pitches around for something, anything to say. “So, uh, what are you doing here?”
Spencer leans in, relaxes his hand to spread over Brendon’s belly. “I work here.”
“You, uh.” Brendon’s having some problems thinking clearly here. Spencer smells like Old Spice and—powdered sugar? Brendon blinks. “You work here? I thought you, um, did what—” Seriously, it would be awesome if Spencer would back up a little, and maybe stop nosing his jaw.
“I’m a pastry chef,” Spencer says.
“What? But you—”
“I used to kill people. I didn’t like it very much.”
“Good to know.” That’s kind of a plus in Brendon’s book. Not that it matters what Brendon thinks, because Brendon is totally a rock here.
“Bren,” Spencer says, and the husky rasp of it sinks all the way down to Brendon’s bones, making him shiver.
Brendon brings up his hands and flattens them against Spencer’s chest. “I think you need to move.” He tries to strong arm Spencer backward, but Spencer isn’t budging. He even looks amused at Brendon’s efforts.
Anger shoots through Brendon and he snaps, “What the fuck, Spencer, you—where have you been? You can’t just do this, this—” He flaps his hand back and forth in what little room Spencer’s given him to maneuver. Spencer can’t just appear out of nowhere after not talking to him for a month, and expect Brendon to just—
“I kind of am doing this. You’re gonna have to deal with it,” Spencer says, and something in his eyes stops Brendon from trying to fight him off when he kisses him, when he opens his mouth over Brendon’s and buries a hand in Brendon’s hair, other wrapped around his nape, urging his head into a tilt. He even kisses him back.
Spencer’s lips are chapped and Spencer’s tongue is kind of awesome, sweeping across Brendon’s mouth. Spencer kisses him loose and pliant and, “I like you a lot, Spence,” slips out breathily when Spencer pulls back.
Spencer stares at him calmly and says, “You scare the hell out me.”
Brendon flinches, tenses up. “Okay.”
Spencer doesn’t let him move away, though, just keeps his grip on his hair, and Brendon stills when Spence tightens his hand over the back of his neck. “God, Brendon,” his fingers clench even tighter and Brendon thinks maybe he’ll bruise, and maybe that’s okay, “fuck, I like you, too.” He hovers open-mouthed, breathing hot and damp over the curve of Brendon’s cheek. “I want to like you a lot more, but not in this bathroom. I’d really hate to get fired.”
“You’d have to go back to killing people,” Brendon says, even though he hadn’t actually meant to say that, because wow is that stupid. That sort of thing happens to Brendon a lot, unfortunately.
Spencer looks at him funny, but then a smile blooms across his face, the biggest one Brendon’s ever seen him give. It’s some kind of wonderful, that’s for sure. Brendon almost, kind of, forgets to breathe for a second. He was maybe lying about liking Spencer before. It might be totally worse than that.
He very carefully folds his lower lip over his teeth and doesn’t say anything at all.
Spencer’s eyes are bright, bright blue and laughing at him and he says, “Okay. Okay, so I’m going to take you home now,” and Brendon just nods. He’s down with that plan. He is so down. He’s apparently ridiculously easy where Spencer is concerned.
Brendon follows Spencer out of the bathroom and back to their table to let Jon and Ryan know they won’t be joining them for a delicious meal, but Jon and Ryan seem to be conspicuously absent.
“Huh,” Brendon says. There’s a single glass of untouched wine and half a pint of beer sweating rings on the polished wood. “I wonder—”
“I don’t care,” Spencer says, linking their fingers together and leading him towards the door.
Brendon’s laughing a little when they spill out in front of the restaurant. He’s embarrassingly giddy, but he thinks he has reason to be. He grabs hold of the back of Spencer’s shirt and leans into his shoulder and grins.
“Wait, wait, is that.” Brendon cocks his head. He’s pretty sure those are Jon’s tasseled loafers hanging out the open window of his truck’s backseat. And that’s definitely Ryan’s mop of curls and Ryan’s freakishly long-fingered hand, spread flat along the back window.
Spencer curls an arm around Brendon’s waist and hauls him back against his chest, turning towards the side-street. “I’m parked over here,” he says, and Brendon totally has a manhandling kink. Luckily, Spencer seems disinclined to ever let him go.